Live shapes in Photoshop tutorial

How to use a live shape in Photoshop CC 2018 2017 2015 etc.

Live shapes in Photoshop

how to use live shapes in Photoshop tutorial
  1. Select the rectangle shape (or ellipse) in the Photoshop toolbar

  2. Select the shape layer option

  3. Apply shape

  4. Display properties panel (if not displayed)

  5. Set the corner settings (middle of the properties panel) for the live shapes in Photoshop

The following can be used : Rectangles and circles (as of 2018).


Video tutorial on the subject by (youtube)


The live shapes is a fairly new feature so I can imagine that it will eventually include the other tools such as polyon tool as well as star and line tool and custom shapes.


propertiesThe key panel is the properties where you can change a number of properties such as the corners and size at any point until you turn them into a normal vector artwork. The properties panel, if it does not appear, can be found as with all the panels via the window menu.


The properties panel will appear as you create a rectangle or circle (if the right side menu show on creation in properties is ON).


dashThe properties panel for the live shapes includes a number of settings such as

fill color (to a solid color or gradient or pattern)

stroke color in the properties



dash style etc

combine etc


Feather and density of the mask for the rectangle and ellipse (select the little icon at the top of the panel with the little hole.

cut outYou can also change a limited set of properties such as the rounded corner setting for rectangles but say if you wish to change an anchor point by using the direct selection tool then the tool will display a message to change to more standard path


You can independently modify the rounded corners so you can set the left to 10px and set the top right to 5px etc. Click the link button in the center of the panel to change them all to the same value. If you want to set all the corners to 20px then just enter 20px in one of the corner radius fields and all the fields will be updated with the same value.


The roundness feature is not available for the ellipse nor is there any arc setting such as in Illustrator


transformYou can also transform the artwork. Artwork made of multiple live shapes or a single design can be moved and modified in numerous ways using the path selection tool as well as the path scaling command or path rotation (use the edit menu and transform path with the selected path).


The key thing is to select the path you wish to transform with the path selection tool and then use the edit menu transform path command and scale and rotate etc. The free transform command also works well with the selected path.


You cannot use perspective or warp etc without turning the artwork to the dark side i.e. just a regular design.


layersHow to combine multiple live shapes with unite / subtract etc ? Simply go to the layer menu and use the combine command and then go to the properties panel and change the unite / subtract etc settings as required in that panel to remove or combine with the other vectors


You can combine multiple artworks together using this approach and they are still all live. You can use the path selection tool to select individual paths and then go to the combine or subtract buttons at the bottom of the panel and change the settings.

combineIf you want to move the paths, simply select any combined paths and use the path selection tool in the toolbox and you can then move them within the combination and this is continuously updated.


So if you want to create a hole in the center of a rectangle, create two rectangles and place the latest one in the center or the first and select both and go to the layer menu and combine command and use the subtract at overlap command (notice that this is exclude in the properties).


You now have a hole or frame design. You can then use the path selection tool to select the hole and move that (use the properties to change the size and corners)


If you have a selection of combined live shapes, select one of them with the path selection tool and then you can modify the individual properties for the selected path so you can change the width and height and start position for the design. You can then interactively see the unite / subtract / intersected artwork move either away or into the other paths in the group.


cut out moreThe live shapes are great if you want to use them to round corners etc but if not, how do you get rid of the feature and just use them as in earlier versions (it would have been great if the application just had a preference or a setting available via the tool to disable it but there is nothing there)


Video tutorial on the subject of disabling live shapes by (youtube)


direct selection tool found in toolbarIf you want to change or convert (or disable) a live shape into a regular one then the direct selection tool is one quick way of doing it but it is not ideal as any change to the shape will modify the actual design though if the snap feature is on then the edited anchor can be placed in exactly the same position for the regular as the live


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A quick way to turn the design into a regular path is to just select the entire design and go to the edit menu and define custom shape and create that and use that instead. Again, not really ideal but at least you have achieved the required result of converting the art to a normal vector artwork.


Another way of turning the artwork into a standard path is to drag the artwork into the CC libraries and then dragging back the smart object, the contents of which will be a standard design and not a live one


regular unite vector designsAnother way to convert the art into a normal path it to combine it with a smaller path. For example, create a rectangle and then set the roundness / corners etc and then go to the polygon tool and create a small star or polygon within the confines of the rectangle and then go to the layer menu and combine command and unite. The end result will now be a regular design and not a live shape.






Once you have converted the artwork using this approach or any of the earlier approaches then there is no way to convert it back to a live design (unlike the tools in Illustrator)



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